Capturing that ‘moment’

I took these in Paris this summer. They’re young performance artists in the plaza of Le Centre Pompidou in the middle of an intense dramatic piece. 

 

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The cult of photoj

This is a site my professor sent us with some interviews and links to photographers’ portfolios.

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Photojournalism’s role in election 2008

Besides Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin skits on Saturday Night Live, photos published as campaign and election coverage will become the iconic images and historic symbols of this race. This Washington Post article analyzes the images and symbols attached to the 2008 election and speculates on their place in pop culture. 

Michelle Obama visited Gainesville, Fla. Oct. 22. I was not able to catch her appearance but after my midterm I headed downtown to capture the rally’s aftermath. The crowd gathered at the steps of the Hippodrome State Theatre.img_6385

The media’s portrayal of a candidate weighs on the public’s opinion, not only in print and online articles but in photos as well.

For example, this photo of Obama depicts him as a popular candidate through composition. It utilizes the rule of thirds and takes advantage of a nostalgic Americana feeling with the colors. Obama is often small in the frame, the rest filled with people in support of their candidate. The media at large seems to favor photographing Obama as an icon while more close-up shots of McCain in mid-speech are printed.

The New York Times’ slideshows “Election Eve: Democrats” and “Election Eve: Republicans” are an interesting juxtaposition of photo compilations of each party’s candidates.

As America heads to the polls today, media coverage will swell with images of voters and candidates. It will be interesting to explore the role of the media’s visual depiction of the candidates in retrospect.

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Photojournalism and storytelling in photo essays

Telling a story is essential to any piece of journalism. Photojournalists have the same obligations to the public that print journalists do: to tell the truth, inform and entertain. Photos communicate emotions so effectively and pack quite a punch, so how can they effectively tell a story?

A photo essay needs a beginning, middle and end ideally. This concept is something I’ve been having difficulty with lately. I shoot and shoot and want to show every detail and face and scene but I need to work on self-editing. The juxtaposition of detail shots and broad shots of scenes will shock the viewer’s eye and draw them into the story.

Tim Gruber’s American Trucker is a wonderful example of a photo essay really telling a story with style. The lighting and tones give the photos a signature and whimsy.

A more serious example of a narrative binding photos together would be Havana by Orlando Barr. It tells the story of a place, a city through its people and buildings. Notice the order of the photos, Barr organizes them in the temporal order of a day, a Havana day. He begins with a silhouette at sunrise and ends with a silhouette at sunset. The essay feels complete and the audience encounters a neatly bound narrative.

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Paris Photos

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Environmental Photography

The difference between a snapshot and a photograph is the photographer’s way of seeing. Guest speaker, Melissa Lyttle, photojournalist for the St. Petersburg Times said photojournalism can never be truely objective. I agree with her opinion that the photographic capabilities and techniques of a photojournalist give each photo a subjective quality. The photojournalist’s perspective and use of light reveal his or her opinion clearly. 

Lyttle’s comment and the recent presidential debates about the environment turned my thoughts to photojournalism’s role in shaping public opinion on environmental issues. In recent years concern for the environment has moved from the lab to the living room. Thanks to influences like Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and celebrities making canvas grocery bags and hybrid cars a social statement, the environment has become a major beat on the pop culture pulse. 

Photojournalists have a tradition of calling attention to ecological issues. Eugene Smith’s Minamata photos directed the world’s eyes to the irreparable damage mankind can do to the environment and itself. 

Today’s generation of photojournalist continues to document and communicate ecological issues. Stuart Franklin’s Magnum Blog post: Environmental Photography does a wonderful job of outlining current environmental photography projects.

The Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management’s Environmental Photographer of the Year 2008: Changing Climates photographs are a testament to what awareness photography can draw to cause.

Highly commended entry The Last Tree?  by Junjie Lou is stirring and direct. The composition is thoughtful; the tree and its reflection are centered and surrounded by water which draws attention to its isolation. The factory yard in the background is in stark contrast to the organic shape of the tree. The gray tones contribute to the overall bleak and ominous message of the photo: climate change is detrimental, dangerous and real. The perspective is interesting because in two dimensions the photo is visually two distinct layers (a top and bottom). The top represents man and destruction, while the bottom symbolizes nature’s last stand against unbeatable odds. Lou probably stood on a cliff to take this shot which yielded a much more effective photograph than the alternative: shooting at the level of the tree.

Environmental photography is a frontier ripe with opportunity to effect change. The environmental concerns of the world are a call to arms for all photojournalists. Photojournalists possess the power to train their lens on the environment, sustainability and climate change and call the public’s attention to the only cause with the potential to unite humanity.

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Composition

Composing a good shot is a challenge. Composing a good shot when every second counts is nearly impossible. Photojournalist work creatively in extreme conditions, in order to produce quality work they have to anticipate action and react accordingly.

Composing a good shot means positioning yourself and your camera to capture optimal action. The camera settings should fit the lighting situation and the lens should already be chosen.

To improve your composition: get closer, one part represents a whole, utilize the rule of thirds and try to include elements like natural framing to add interest.

Here’s a PDF that’s easy to print and look over or take along for inspiration, check out page 2 of the National Geographic Xpeditions Photo Guide.

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